Sunday, July 1, 2007

For my Diana, England's rose

My TIVO is set to record the concert on VH1. My heart has never been the same. Diana seemed so much more than an English Princess to me. I know she was adored by multitudes, but somehow, I always felt so extremely, personally, close to her. I absolutely loved her as a friend I had never met, somehow a kindred spirit, a soul similar to my own, I believed. I'll never know for sure, but I imagine we would have been dear friends had there not been miles of ocean, protocol, issues, and fate between our lives.

On Diana's wedding day my home became a lovely English reception hall. My adored and revered gramma came down, stayed all night with me, and helped me decorate and cook a wedding breakfast fit for royalty. We used our best sterling silver, my finest china, live roses, and we created little maidens in Welsh clothing as favors. My family all arrived desperately early in the morning (England is six hours ahead!!!) We watched the wedding and then celebrated with scones, what I believed to be crumpets, tea, and lovely what I hoped to be English foods. My dad and my ex-husband were bumfoozled. What was happening? They thought I'd truly flipped. But it was an event to immortalize, so I tried. I remember I used to play a little game with myself as I cleaned my house and readied it for company. I pretended Diana was planning to be a guest! Boy, could I ever clean for a Princess!!!! During her life, I collected, hoarded, begged for and cherished a stack of books, cups, dolls, miniatures, magazines--- anything Diana. My collection fills a five foot amoire. When Diana stopped, so did I. I barely managed to tuck in the beautiful People Commemorative issue. A few lovely friends gave me books or magazines in her honor. But, for the most part, I was never happy collecting anything "Diana" after Diana was gone.

I am not from England, so I have no idea how hard the whole Diana lifetime events have been on the English. I understand they must have been overwhelmed and heart-broken by everything that happened. I have only MY side of the ocean, my own reverent and unashamed adoration of her. When the negative things about her came into focus, it only made me feel more kindred to her spirit. I have been disappointed in love, a little obsessed with weight issues (little?), and uncomfortable with my surroundings too many times to count. I have adored a son with all my heart and felt my heart break for world causes. I have flirted with disaster and with men who spell disaster. I listened to taped interviews with the Princess, and I finally believed my initial guesses to be true. We are friends for life.

I have a confession to make. I don't grieve and go on. Hidden below a cheerful (I hope) and bubbly (I wish) exterior lies every wound, every grief, every tear I have ever created. Sometimes the sheer angst (how I love that word but hate to use it) of it all just gets me to sobbing when I don't know/can't say why. Diana is a part of all that, just as are the beloved people in my own circle who have left this earth. When Kensington castle had a fire, my then-husband left work a little early and came to my school room door: "Everyone's alright," he assured me. "But Diana's castle was on fire for a little bit. I was afraid you'd hear it on the news and worry." Aw.... one of the sweetest, most understanding moments I recall. Then that awful night ... A phone call from my dad; disbelief, denial, first refusal to turn on the television, then glued in loud sobs to the broadcasts. My son told me he could hear me from his room, but he couldn't come out because he didn't want to invade my wall of sorrow. I remember putting my flag at half mast and walking to my mother's to do the same. She told me quickly and curtly, "She wouldn't be crying if this were reversed!" But I insisted she would if she had known me. So.

Here we are. Happy Birthday, sweet girl. I'm proud of your sons for doing this for you, and I'm so sure you are always there in their corner of the world looking out for them and your beautiful country. You will always be in my heart for you have touched my soul.


Dawn said...

Gayla, First let me say thank you for stopping by my blog today and leaving such lovely comments about my work. Secondly, let me say, that although not nearly as involved as you in the whole Diana thing, I too was greatly saddened the day we learned of her death. I was living in AZ at the time and I remember that night vividly...staying up all night and following the news casts. Watching that funeral and crying. She really was one of those defining people of our generation...I remember being such a little girl when she wed, and my Mom getting up early to watch it on tv, that dress! And the picture you posted here...I loved that news bit when she came flying out to meet her boys. God I want to be that kind of mom! Sadly, with all the outdoor activities that go on these days, I totally missed the concert. I bet it was awesome.

Lois said...

Gayla, I came upon your blog through a comment you left on Lovellas blog today. I have only read your Diana post, and thought wow, you were writing about me in parts of it. I will look forward to going back to your blog and reading more.Thanks for sharing so honestly.